OBD Software and Interface $22.16
Preface - In my opinion a scan tool should do the following:
1. Display DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) in the Pxxxx format. Most, but not all tools offer this feature. Many people have the idea that you need a tool that will read manufacturer specific data. While a tool that can do this is nice at times, usually this means spending a lot more money and limits the options available. All cars sold in the US since 1996 are required to conform to the ODBII standard which means a generic scan tool will function and communicate with the OBD port and will be able to read and display DTC codes that indicate the status of the fuel management system and detect and display information about misfires as well as provide transmission related DTC information, however, transmission related problems are not nearly as common as engine fuel management problems. While a tool that can display specific manufacturer specific codes and data may get more detailed data, it is not always necessary. The OBDII data set and DTC are more than adequate to help diagnose the majority of driveability problems in today's vehicles.
2. Display real time sensor date such as engine temperature, MAF readings and fuel trim valves. Most higher end tools offer this feature, I would recommend not spending your money on a tool that does not offer this feature. This is a very important and KEY feature of any tool in my opinion.
3. Display Freeze Frame data. Most higher end tools offer this feature, I would recommend not spending your money on a tool that does not offer this feature. This is a very important and KEY feature of any tool in my opinion. Freeze Frame data is part of the OBDII standard and takes a snapshot off all other sensors when a DTC is triggers and stores these values. Things like engine speed, temperature, MAF reading, calculated engine load, fuel trims, throttle position, ignition timing and other sensor values are all stored for better understanding of what is conditions the car was operating under when a DTC code(s) were triggered.
4. Display real time status of Emission Readily Monitors or Status. Most higher end tools offer this feature, I would recommend not spending your money on a tool that does not offer this feature. This is a very important and KEY feature of any tool in my opinion.
5. Record and display a graphical representation of sensor or other data right on the tool without having to save and transfer this information. This is a newer feature offered by many of the higher end scan tools and can be very helpful when trying to resolve unusual or stubborn issues. Although you think this may be expensive, even some sub $100 scan tools offer this feature these days. Definitely something I would consider checking into when looking at stand alone or computer software based scan tools.
Many times you may end up with more than a single scan tool. You may have software that runs on a computer and a hand held stand alone DTC reader of some form. Stand alone readers are fast, small and do not require a phone, computer or special interface. Many times it is wise to keep a stand alone tool in the car so you have quick access to be able to read and clear codes while you are on the go.
One word for the wise, DTC codes should be considered "clues", they are not usually all inclusive and a direct indicator of a sensor failure. Many times MANY DTC codes will appear or add up over time as the CEL light is on. What I suggest is anytime the CEL comes on is to log the date and mileage along with all the codes and any Freeze Frame data that may be available. Since most phones have cameras these days, I recommend at least taking a picture of the codes and Freeze Frame data display screen if you do not have paper and a writing instrument handy. Taking this extra step can be very helpful in the long run. Clear the codes then drive the car and be prepared to check the code(s) as soon as the CEL comes on again and note the DTC code(s) that appear first. Then continue monitor the for additional DTC codes as you drive.
Once you have read any DTC codes, stop and pause before you jump to conclusions. Many people, even seasoned mechanics, will read a DTC description and if it states a sensor name in the DTC description immediately jump to the conclusion that the specific sensor or component is bad. This is really a knee jerk reaction and you should really study the code(s), search the Internet and ask questions. Many of the codes that mention a sensor do not mean the sensor is at fault. For example P0420/P0430 indicate that the catalytic converter efficiency is a problem. The likelyhood the catalytic converter(s) is actually bad is very slim. Other problems can trigger these codes like very minor exhaust leaks around the post catalytic converter O2 sensor (O2 bung welds cracked or other minor exhaust leaks), a bad or lazy post catalytic converter O2 sensor, or even a problem with the DME software that may require an update. These specific catalytic converter DTC codes are actually an industry wide issue where many other manufacturers have released DME/CPU updates to widen the monitoring window to reduce the sensitivity of the trigger point for these codes. Also many lean codes reference the O2 sensor is out of range or at its limit. This again is usually not an indicator that the O2 sensor(s) are at fault and not likely in need to replacement.
Again, look at any and all DTC`s as clues, take some time, ask some questions and think through how the DTC description is worded before you jump to replacing sensors.
Also a note on MAF codes, again be careful here. Many people change out a MAF as the first solution as it is one of the easiest sensor to replace, however, MAF sensors do not tend to fail or need to be replaced as often as they seem to be. Also since many MAF`s are very expensive due to the platinum wire, often people go on the cheap and purchase cheap units on ebay or though other sources. A word to the wise, if it seems to cheap/too good to be true, likely it is a cheap imitation or counterfeit that will not likely work correctly.
Also I recommend keeping any sensors that you replace just in case you find that the replacement sensor may not be working correctly and you can possibly replace the original sensor during advanced troubleshooting.
On to the topic at hand -
So for anyone that does not have a Driod phone or tablet (for running Torque Pro - See highlighted section below for Driod/Torque Info) but has PC based laptop (Might be able to also run on Apple with Parallels or other Windows boot option as well, but I have not tried this) you may want to consider this ELM Scan 5 USB inteface with free OBDWiz software for under $25 on Amazon. No 2-3 week wait, no hassle, but note this is not a BMW specific tool, this is a generic scan tool program that also will display real time data, graph, record and playback data. Again, this is an option for those who do not have access to a Droid device and want a low cost option to check codes, gather data and be able to graph and playback results.
Is this a great tool? No
Is this a decent tool that will be helpful? Yes
Is this tool worth under $25? Yes
Is this tool better than PA Soft? Yes and No. PA Soft is a very specific BMW tool that does a lot more than this software and interface, however, this software and interface can do things that PA Soft cannot do as is also a generic tool that will work on almost any OBD 2 car.
Note that Amazon pricing can vary wildly at times, but I just looked at this tool the other day and it was around $26. I think when I purchased it a year or more ago, it was close to $30.
I found this tool was adequate, not great, not totally intuitive, but it worked and was able to provide, graph and gather data.
I have Amazon Prime so I do not need to meet a minimum for shipping.
If you need something else to bring the minimum to over $25 and you have an older BMW or have friends that have older BMW's you might want to consider having a 20 pin round BMW to OBD 16 pin adapter on hand?
With this kind of price for an OBD tool that can read and clear codes, read and graph real time data, there is no excuse for everyone not to have one of these in their tool kit.
You can also update the software if you like it and need more advanced features for $90.
As usual, if you do not act soon, likely the price will increase and you will not have the software installed and working and be familiar with it when you have a problem.
Suggest you be prepared and be ready to address your upcoming issues and have this tool ready and waiting.
Additional Info for people that are looking for something other than this software. If you have a smart phone or tablet there are some low cost options on the market to consider as well.
Update: OBDFusion is my current recommended OBDII App over Torque Pro for a number of reasons. Torque Pro still does not properly support wideband O2 sensors and it does not support Live or Recorded Fuel System Status Monitors. OBDFusion is also offered for both Android and iProducts and the learning curve is much smaller.
If you own a Droid Phone or tablet, the Torque Pro App
for $5 coupled with a $15 ODB to Bluetooth adapter like the ELM327 from Amazon is a good alternative or something to have as well as the software mentioned above. Make sure you also check out Plug Ins for Torque Pro as well, I think some are FREE and some may cost you. This will give you a $20 scan tool that can graph sensors and data, read and clear codes as well as track your driving via GPS and even provide some vehicle performance data.
If you own an iPhone, iTouch or iPad you can check out the FUZZYCar App for $4.99.
There are also other Apps such as Rev, Dash Commander and others. But search for yourself, read the reviews. In my opinion they are all rather costly as compared to other options and require special and/or expensive interfaces.
Also check out GoPoint for cables or interfaces, again, not cheap but work with the Apple products.
Here is a post with some comments on the GoPoint interface and Apple Apps - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...ight=cable+app
There is also a new up and upcoming iPhone App & Interface called Automatic that may offer some useful features, however, it is not released yet (as of this edit March 2013) and it is not clear if the tool will display real time ECU/DME data and all graphing. This tool has a lot of other features and it appears that being able to read engine/transmission trouble codes may be a lower level feature of this App/Interface combination.
It just seems that most of the Apple Apps are not supported as well as Android Apps and the Apple Apps require costly interfaces. At the end of the day you could purchase a Launch CReaderVI, ODB Wiz and BMW Scanner 1.4.0 and have a cheaper and better set of tools then some of the Apple based Apps and interfaces. Not hating, just stating reality due to the way Apps and interfaces are currently priced and configured at this time.
I have not attempted to use this program as there is an expensive cable listed as a required physical interface. However, I have read that some people have successfully used the ELM327 OBD to Bluetooth interface. Again, I have not tried the ELM327 with FUZZYCar or tried FUZZYCar so I suggest you try this at your own risk until we/I get sold proof that the ELM327 will work with FUZZYCar. There was a question on the FUZZYCar web site about the ELM327, however, the discussion is rather old and somewhat inconclusive. You may need to Jail Break your iDevice in order to run the ELM327 with FUZZYCar?? I have no idea, if I ever have any time, I may try FUZZYCar, however, I do not have any of my iDevices Jail Broken at this time. You are on your own with FUZZYCar, but it someone can confirm that it works with the ELM327 without Jail Breaking or jumping through too many hoops I will update this section accordingly.
Another interesting tool/monitoring device that is reasonably prices is the UltraGuage. Again, this is a generic tool that displays real time data, allows you to track fuel usage, oil change intervals, set threshold alarms for things like Voltage and Temperature. So for under $80, this is another useful device that can be used on any car with a OBDII interface and can even be connected permanently in the car if desired.
BMW Scanner 1.4.0 from www.xcar360.com, Newegg or sometimes Amazon for around $35 is a good BMW specific coding tool that also addresses airbag codes and resets the airbag light and in some applications will display real time engine data, however, I have not been able to do this on any of the cars I have connected to.
INPA is another BMW specific tool, coupled with a cheap $15 VAGCom cable from Amazon, Ebay or other source along with the INPA software that you can buy or sometimes be downloaded for free is a good option to have available.
Peake Reader - http://www.peakeresearch.com/This is a fairly good BMW specific stand alone code reader. The problem with the Peake is that it is ONLY a code reader. It will not display any sort of Freeze Frame data or real times data. In some situations it may be useful, but in my opinion for the money it does not provide enough useful data. You can purchase BMW Scanner 1.4.0 and a really good stand alone generic scan tool that can read and display real time data for about close to 2/3 the price of the Peake reader. I have a Peake reader and I was sold on it by another forum, however, it really just gathers dust and I have not used it in over 1 year. For some situations a Peake Reader may have value, however, I do not see the need to for this tool. If you plan on purchasing one, do not purchase directly from Peake, shop it around or purchase a used one.
For the really hard core that have a lot of computer experience, you could go with BMW GT1, DIS, SSS, Progman, NCS Expert, Ediabas, Winkfp. This is very specific BMW software, BUT this is no easy task to get this software up and running properly, some of this software may only be in German language and some of this software can be VERY dangerous in the wrong hands. You will need either a USB to OBD cable or the yellow interface head depending on the version of software you have and what other tweaks happen to be in the software. This software typically requires the installation of Virtual Machine and may not work well on older, slower machines or new 64 bit machines. You will need to do a lot of research to determine if this software is something you are willing to install and learn how to use. I would say it is not for the casual user or weekend tech.
Stand alone generic scan tool like the Launch CReaderVI for around $65 best price I have found out of Asia. This is one of the few stand alone generic scan tools that has a color display and will provide real time graphing of sensors within the tool. The on tool graphing is limited, unfortunately you cannot export it to rescale and play with the graphing data like with Torque or other software based programs. At the moment the CReaderVI is my favorite go to scan tool, it is the first one I grab for any job or diagnosis and is my baseline tool I always use. There are other fairly good stand alone tools available, but if you plan on investing in one, make sure it can at least read real time engine data. Many cheaper stand alone tools do not read and display real time engine data and in my opinion you are missing a lot of useful info if fuel trims, engine temp and other sensor data cannot be viewed and analyzed.
Updated Launch CReader Info at this link - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...6#post15230106
A few new Launch offerings appear to the the CReader VII which is an updated version of the CReader VI that has an internal battery so graphs can be viewed without external power, a buzzer alert of some sort?, some info statestouch type screen and display it may read Airbag & ABS info, however, I would not relay on this as fact as of yet. The CReader VII appears to have an iTough/iPhone?
The CReader VII may have been a regional product or it may not have taken off and may have been superseded by the Launch CReader Professional 123 that does appear to be able to read and clear Airbag and ABS codes.
Search around for info and availability on these other Launch products.
Note about the CRecoderII, as of April 2013 it appears that Launch may be working one a newer version of something like the CRecorderII?? There are some software bugs in the CRecorderII that I am not sure Launch is willing to resolve, which is very unfortunate as I think the bugs are pretty simple fixes?? One major problem is with the timing or the recording/sampling rate. Launch claims a 2 second sample rate, it turns out their sample rate is either 5-6 seconds or their software that captures the samples only every 3rd sample. So of you drive the car for 30 minutes, on the graph it indicates only a 10 minute drive. So stay tuned for future updates if I can still edit this post
Another interesting offering by Launch is the CRecorderII. Not sure this is really still a current product??? A small, stand alone interface that records the OBD data stream for later review and analysis. I have not had a chance to check this out yet, it is interesting and I believe has some applications. The thing that may limit or make this tool not so interesting would the software. Some early reviews indicated the software was a big difficult to navigate. Not sure if there has been much development on the software with any new releases, or if it is just something you have to learn to work with??
This CRecorderII is a bit tricky to find and seems to range in price from around $65-$100 depending on if and where you can find it. Again, it is unclear if this product has been abandoned or if there is just not much interest and it is the red headed step child of the product lineup??
Here is a corny YouTube video that gives a small idea of what the unit looks like and how you use it - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4WxIKoJHao
Another decent looking Launch tool is the CRP 123 aka CReader Pro 123.
This tool reads OBD data for engine and transmission as well as ABS and Airbags all in a single tool. Can display real time data, Emission Readiness Monitors, Freeze Frame. Record and Log data on tool.
This is just a point of reference, suggest if you are interested in this tool you shop it around. I know there are a few minor software bugs in the unit, nothing a show stopper at this point and Launch has released upgrades for this tools and is currently working on other updates. Be careful as there appear to be 2 hardware versions of this tool. One version has all red buttons, this is supposed to be "Global" version and there is a version with a yellow button that is supposed to be an "Asian" version. Not sure if there are issues with the 2 different units, I heard that there may be some issue updating the yellow button "Asian" version outside of Asia, however, I have not been able to confirm this 100%.
I have been playing with one of these lately and it seems pretty slick. Not sure all features are supported on all models, but I can read individual wheel sensors, Heated O2 sensor current draw, shift times for automatics, my convertible roll over protection information. Cruise control switch status, brake switch single and quite a bit of other info.
Shop this tool around. Be careful where you get this tool as some may be for the Asian/European market.
This tool covers MANY models and it pretty versatile.
Another interesting but a bit pricy option if you have to own a Garmin GPS with the EcoRoute feature is the Garmin EcoRoute HD OBDII Bluetooth adapter. This adapter was mainly designed to help with fuel economy, however, if can read DTC codes, clear CEL, display gauges and likely real time OBD data. The single biggest issue that I think this misses is the ability to set alarms or thresholds for gauges like temp, voltage and maybe low fuel?
Interesting the 2005 BMW 330C??? shows up on the incompatible vehicle list???
I have not used this feature or dongle, but it sounds interesting and for anyone that may keep their gps in the car full time, this may be something to consider??
In the short term, for anyone that does not have a scan tool yet and needs to have codes read, a few option, except for some within the State of California, you should be able to check with your local auto parts store to see if they have a scan tool you can borrow that will allow you to read the codes on your car and possibly reset the CEL. Most Auto Zone, Advance, Pep Boys, O'Rielly Auto Parts store have scan tools they will loan you to use at least in their parking lots. Also Aamco Transmission advertise that they will read your codes for free on TV. This may be the only option that some have in California, as for some reason California may have a law that will not allow local parts stores to loan scan tools to reset CEL on cars either due to SMOG laws or to try and force people into SMOG shops. Not totally sure about the California situaiton, but I do realize there are some challenges about borrowing a scan tool in that state.
I would recommend if you live in California you go ahead and invest in a scan tool that has the ability to display Emission Readiness Monitor status and be able to display sensor real time data. Given the issues of the CA SMOG testing and the problem of borrowing a scan tool from local auto parts stores.
Thanks for this, jfoj. I've been meaning to pick up a generic scanner.
I should have bought this one, and I will buy it. I like that it is a corded devise and does not rely on a signal.
I bought a similar scanner off of eBay that is uncorded, it's Bluetooth. And I can not seem to connect to my laptop with a Bluetooth signal. It's supposed to work good with the Android but will not work with my iPhone. The iPhone will only work thru a wifi signal not Bluetooth.
The difference is this interface actually comes with OBD software, where most other interfaces close to this price only provide software drivers, so the computer can communicate with the interface.
Again, the key here is the OBDWiz software is included with the interface for under $25!
Yes you can get a Droid up and going for slightly under the price of this interface, BUT you need a Droid device and I am not sure Torque Pro can actually play back recorded data, it just displays the graph that was captured as I recall.
Can you get into the bmw main car computer like the 1.4.0 scanner with this one from amazon? I want to see what's going on with my traction control.
A bluetooth ELM137 scanner with Torque (android app) also works great, and is the same cost.
But even if you have a Droid, this can offer some unique features and supplement Torque Pro as well.
As for BMW Scanner that you may be able to get quicker, here a few options. I have not purchased from these guys, but it might be worth checking into these options?
This states the seller ships from OR??
NewEgg has a whole bunch of scan tools and automotive tools listed now. Not sure if they are just acting as a store front for these??
BMW Scanner shows out of stock at the moment, but here is the NewEgg link - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...9SIA1PU0KJ1978
Damn thing is now up to $24.17, I warned everyone to bite while the price was right!
I need this.
Dropped back to $23.61.
I have no idea how Amazon prices things, they change all over the place!
Thanks...may be ordering this to give it a shot.
Also interested in exploring Bluetooth/Android options - this should work w/our cars using Torque, correct? $15 with free two-day shipping (Prime) makes it hard to pass up...
ElmScan 5 back down to $22.27!!!!
Also added some additional tool options in main post.
I wonder if the OBDWiz software can be used with the x360 obdII/usb hardware interface so that I could use free software to create a generic obd code reader using existing hardware. If notbody has tried it, maybe I will (though I'll be using a virtual xp machine running on mac laptop, so my results may not be typical . . .)
Will not work with the BMW Scanner interface or vs. versa.
Thanks jfoj for this thread. I picked one up and like it so far...
Super Mini elm327.....do not download anything that comes with his device. There might be a cd. Don't use it. It contains a virus. The device works well. Is VERY compact, I leave mine in all the time and never hit it or see it. The others are bigger
Inpa.....and all the other major bmw software $40.....including cable. I bought this but have not received it yet. Others have had success. One guyi talked to said it didn't work. The sellers rating is high
Updated thread with additional information.
BMW Scanner 2.0.1, it use free software to create a generic obd code reader using existing hardware
Super Mini ELM327 Bluetooth
BMW GT1 DIS V57 SSS V41 fit all laptops
and so on ....
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